What Is God Thankful For?

biblical-faithfulness-694x382[1]What Is God Thankful For?  Hebrews 1:2-3

I was checking out some blogs one day when I happened on a thought provoking one.  The below thought is from Austin Brown’s blog at gentlereformation.com. Although I can’t endorse all of his entries, this was a good one to be sure:

Is God thankful? A persons initial impulse might be to answer with a fairly certain “Yes.”  One might not know exactly why they think this is so, but the thought process might be formulated roughly as follows: Being thankful is nice, God is nice, therefore God is thankful.

Theologically and Biblically speaking this thought process should go a bit deeper… The difficult question is how God could be thankful given His omnipotence and omniscience.  He doesn’t need help with anything. He isn’t dependent on anything.  He’s God.  So it would seem that if He were going to pray before a meal, as it were, He would be thankful to Himself.  But then why give thanks?

There are a many Biblical instances of Jesus expressing thankfulness to the Father.  Since Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3) we can truly say that God is thankful, but for what now?  Is He thankful for you and me?  Consider this analogy when contemplating God’s thankfulness for you and me: a young child draws a picture for their father.  The father bought the crayons.  The father “created” the child.  The father sustains the child by caring for him.  And yet, the father thankfully delights in the crudely drawn picture.  Why?  Because he loves the child.  And the child freely loves him.  And because of that, the father says “Thank you.”

Let Our Thanks to God be Faithfulness Micah 6:6-8

In addition to Austin’s blog I add:

A crudely drawn picture surely delights a mother and father’s heart, but what really makes parent’s hearts soar is when their child exhibits skills, character traits, morals and talents that they have instilled in them.  When our children remain loyal to us and our teachings and put that loyalty into consistent practice our hearts swell with thankfulness!  In a similar way God is thankful when we show faithfulness to Him and His teachings regardless of what the circumstances or consequences may be.  God spoke through the prophet Micah once to show His people what He truly desires from us mortals. In essence it is our faithfulness.  Faithfulness is a better gift than bowing down at His throne, than numerous offerings, or even our“firstborn” for the sin of our souls.   God has clearly shown us what is good and what He requires of us         (Micah 6:8):

 To Act Justly:  To live with a sense of right and wrong based on scripture.  In other words to FOLLOW Christ and His teachings.

To Love Mercy: “Love mercy” contains the Hebrew word hesed, which means “loyal love” or “loving-kindness.” Love for Christ and ones fellow man equals service.  To do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Luke 6:31) is to SERVE as Christ has served you…even in your sin and    rebellion when you were against Him.

To Walk Humbly:  “Walk humbly” is a description of the heart’s attitude toward God. He is exalted while we are debased, He is Shepherd while we are sheep, He is leader and we are followers.  He is a faithful Father to us and to walk humbly with Him is to be a FAITHFUL child to him.

A Thankful Heart Follows, Serves and is Faithful to the one to whom he appreciates.  It is God who has been ever following you despite your sin, serving you through His sacrificial love, and faithfully delivering His promises to as many as would receive Him (John 1:12).  What is God thankful for?  What gift can we bring Him?  He has shown us… Are you thankful to God today? 

 Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 1 Chronicles 16:8

The Danger of “Tourists”

Syruan Refugeesnorthern iraqThere is a great debate over allowing 10,000 + Syrian  refugees into America.  President Obama says that they are “no more dangerous than tourists” and that critics of bringing in Syrian refugees are ‘scared of widows and orphans’.  It is important to note, however, that tourists come for a short, planned stay with their own money which adds to a country’s economy, and widows and orphans are not usually accompanied by a host of 18-57 year old men.  The President is living in denial once again.  The fact of the matter is that these 10,000 + refugees will be a long-term responsibility on the citizens of America.  We will provide their health care, food, child births, education, and housing.  They will also compete for employment with our citizens and put an additional burden on public safety.  Additionally, these are people with different ideals and values from American people, and possibly some may even be planted terrorists who seek to do real harm to our people.  To say that these things  should be of no concern to the American people is foolhardy at least and irresponsibly detrimental to the future of our posterity at most.

It seems strange to me that our President and his adherents would rather bring 10,000+ threats into our country than to send 10,000+ military troops into Syria and Iraq to destroy the beast that drove them out. The military’s purpose is to serve and to protect America and its citizens. The primary reason for the existence of the military is to engage in combat and to win should it be required to do so.  I would rather risk the lives of American soldiers on foreign soil than risk the lives of our children and grandchildren on American soil.  This is why the military has been established. and this is the kind of directive that should be coming from  its Commander and Chief.  To deny that the world and America is at war with radical Islamic terrorists is insanity.  What has occurred in France will be coming to America…in fact it already has.  How quickly we forget 9.11. 2001!  What will it take to resurrect  the dead spot between our ears?

Terror Alert!

THREAT1[1]

The 2012 Benghazi, Libya attack that took four American lives at the narcissistic price of a second term presidential election, the presidential release of five high level terrorist for one American traitor, a blundering deal with Iran that paid the terror sponsors $150 billion dollars and allows their own inspectors to regulate their nuclear capabilities, and the presidential promise to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees into America in 2016 despite the current terrorist attacks on Paris.  Meanwhile, many Americans are actually considering a vote for a similar bag of tricks in Hillary Clinton, or a bag of bones in avowed socialist  Bernie Sanders.

The question burning in American minds? Will extremist Muslim terrorists attack America like they have attacked France? Why would they do such a foolish thing when the current administration is playing right into their blood soaked hands?  If they do attack Washington as they promised, I am sure that they will leave the house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue alone.  There are terrorist alerts all over the world and yet one of the greatest threats to America resides in our White House.  Additional threats come through the votes of like minded Americans.  Wake up America and think beyond your own self-centered interests.  If you don’t recognize some (or any) of the above mentioned administrative decisions then you need to investigate them, the policy makers and the dangers they pose to you and our America.  Come on people…we have our posterity to protect!

The Thankful Heart That Serves

cb6fcdb1[1]If you choose to follow Jesus out of gratitude for what He has done for you then you will become a servant. Jesus said Himself, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Mark 10:45   True thankfulness returns in service to others. When you are truly thankful for something it puts good will in   your heart.

Peter and all the other disciples were corrected many times on who God considered great in the kingdom. The passage in Mark 9:33-37 reflects one of these instances.  The disciples had been arguing over who was the greatest and Jesus rebuked them and sat a child on His lap.  In the ancient Jewish culture children were considered women’s work and were not even     allowed to bother the men when they spoke about religious matters.   Jesus brought the children into the religious conversation and essentially told the men to grow up and learn from the children they were shunning.  A child believes and follows and simply wants to be included in any way with the one he loves.  A child mimics the one he follows, and Jesus wants you and me to mimic Him; that means to become a servant of all…especially to children who are watching (and mimicking) our every move!

Forgiveness Expresses Thankfulness Matthew 18:21-35

One time Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive. He thought seven times was generous since the Jewish rabbis of his time taught that no more than three times was necessary.  Jesus ‘ answer to Peter was astonishing.  “not seven times, but seventy times seven times”, he said.  Jesus was not limiting forgiveness to 490 times, but He was essentially saying “stop counting!”  The parable He told afterward drives the message home. A truly thankful person serves up forgiveness again and again because they are grateful for the debt of sin that God has forgiven them. In fact, Jesus said we will not be forgiven our sin if we do not forgive those that sin against us. Matthew 6:15 Christians are only capable of this type of forgiving spirit because the Spirit of God lives within us, and it is He who provides the ability to offer forgiveness over and over, just as God forgives us over and over again.

Washing the Feet of the World John 13:1-17, Matthew 5:14-16

Peter watched Jesus serve for three years as he followed Him, and it was no coincidence that Jesus’ teaching at the Last Supper would drive that message of being a servant deep into his heart. Washing the feet of guests was the job of a slave and when Jesus offered to wash the disciples’ feet before the evening meal Peter was troubled. The illustration Jesus gave was powerful.  In essence He was saying that he came to serve man to make him clean before God. In thankfulness for His service to us, we need also to serve the world in the same way.  It is the call of Christ to every believer to be a servant to all.  So that our good deeds may become light in darkness that leads people to God.

Serving in the Strength of God 1 Peter 4:10-11

With clean feet, Peter would go on that night to see Jesus arrested. In anger Peter would cut off the ear of one who came to arrest his Lord, but  Jesus would serve the man by  healing his ear and telling Peter to put away his sword. John 18:10-11, Luke 22:51   With clean feet, Peter would follow Jesus from afar and with a dirty mouth he would say he never knew him, Matthew 26:74-75   then, with clean feet, Peter would then run off weeping and hide while Jesus served mankind with His last breath.  “It is finished” John 19;30.

But Peter was clean…Jesus said so, just as Christians are forgiven yet often live contrary to that gracious pronouncement.  John 13:10b  But Peter would later run to the empty tomb John 20:3-4 , He would jump into the water and swim to shore to meet Jesus at one of His appearings John 21:7 , He would be reinstated by Jesus  in love John 21:15-19, and He would go on to serve as Jesus did until his death as a martyr.  Peter was thankful to God and so he served others in His name.   In his writing he instructed us to do the same saying, “If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength that God provides”. In this we are reminded that it is Christ who washes us clean for service, and we in turn should now serve in His strength.

“Remember the Lord!”

Simon Peter had a wife. We know this because in Luke 4:38 Jesus healed his mother-in-law. The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:5 that Peter took his wife on his apostolic mission. Peter was married. That’s really all we know for certain about his domestic life. Eusebius cites the testimony of Clement, who says that before Peter was crucified he was forced to watch the crucifixion of his own wife. As he watched her being led to her death, Clement says, Peter called to her by name, saying, “Remember the Lord!” To remember Him is to be thankful for His service to us. Can we do less than serve him with our life even unto death?

The Thankful Heart That Follows

The Thankful Heart That Follows

The Thankful Heart That Follows

 

They Did Not Comprehend John 1:1-5, 10-12

Jesus’ mission was to come to earth to give men power to become sons of God. Without that power mankind is destined to be enslaved by sin and eternally damned. Jesus shined in man’s darkness but men did not comprehend Him, He created their world but they did not know Him, He came to His own creation but they would not receive Him, (and most still do not) but to those who did receive Him— He gave the power to become sons of God with eternal promise. That is to say that those who respond with a thankful heart follow Jesus into the promise that He alone came   to deliver.

Thankful Hearts Matthew 16:24-26

Peter was one that responded to Jesus with a thankful heart. We know that he was truly thankful because his life demonstrated thankfulness. Thankfulness is not found in a word or even in a hug or a kiss. True thankfulness is expressed in action over time—time and time again. That   is why following is a wonderful definition of being thankful. Jesus said if anyone would come after me let him deny himself, take up his cross     and follow.

Peter first met Jesus through the invitation of his brother Andrew who had been following John the Baptist. (John 1:40-42) When John announced that Jesus was the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” Andrew went to meet Jesus and spent some time with him. Later, Andrew told his brother Peter all about him. “We have found the Messiah”, said Andrew. On another day Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee as the two brothers were preparing to go out and fish (Matthew 4:18-20). Jesus called out to them to follow Him and they both immediately did so. Their decision to follow Jesus was less impulsive than the scriptures infer. There was likely much discussion and thinking that took place between Peter and his brother, but by the time Jesus asked them to follow they were ready.

Peter and Andrew were thankful that the Messiah (Lit. Anointed One: Prophesied deliverer) had actually appeared to them and wanted them to follow and become a part of his plan. Are you thankful of this same invitation in your own life? Will you follow?

Following John 6:48-61, 66-68, 1 John 4:18-19

True thankfulness continues to show itself in following long after others leave. In the     passage above, Peter seeks to understand Jesus’ difficult statement while others become offended and leave Him. When Jesus asked His disciples if they would also stop followingPeter responded by saying “who else would we go to? We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” When a person is truly thankful they are not easily offended by the one who they are thankful for. By following Jesus, Peter had come to believe and know who Jesus was. Although Peter was often confounded by what Jesus said, Peter knew that Jesus always spoke the truth. As a result of his resolve to continue to follow Christ, Peter grew in wisdom and faith.

Peter always followed Christ even when others left Him. Peter even followed Christ after His arrest (Matthew 26:58). Before that arrest, Peter told Jesus that he would even follow Him into death (John 13:37-38), but Jesus knew better. Peter would deny Christ out of fear and hate himself for it (Matthew 26:74-75)., but his fear would later become overthrown by the renewed thankfulness that he experienced in Christ’s forgiveness (John 21:15-19).

 

Peter would go onto die as a martyr because of his quest to follow Jesus. Tradition tells us that Peter died as a martyr. When he was given the choice of how he should die, he said, “I’d like to be crucified up-side-down because I am unworthy to die as my Lord died.” The Scriptures do not record this request of Peter. However, John 21:16,19 alludes to the fact that Peter would die a martyr’s death.

 

A Thankful heart will  always follow its benefactor in  love.  And if that love be true, then even fear itself will not stand in its path. 1 John 4:18-19

Are You Following Jesus? 1 John 3:18, James 2:14-19

Are you a thankful person? Does your thankfulness extend into the action of following? Are you thankful for the mission of Jesus calling you to become sons (daughters) of God? Are you following Him in appreciation of His grace and love towards you? Are you following Him regardless of what others say or do? Are you following Him even though it means that you must deny yourself. Are you following Him even though some of His words confuse or offend you? Are you following despite your fears? Are you responding in love to the one who first loved you?

 

Our response to Jesus is not to be lip service. We are called to respond to God’s grace and love in deed and truth. Our thankfulness will show itself in deed. Our faith will be evidenced by our following. Let’s follow Jesus together, and may we never forget… His blessings are only available to those that do.

What do You Want on Your Tombstone

What do You Want on Your Tombstone

WHAT DO YOU WANT ON YOUR TOMBSTONE?

Another Halloween is behind us now where many people spent the evening trying to scare themselves and others out of their skins. What is the fascination with fear and death?  Perhaps it is the subconscious idea that we are cheating death by playing with it that delights us so, but in reality…BOO! Everyone dies!  The most scary thought however is not the inevitable but the futility of life itself.  This fear is personified in Shakespeare’s classic play, Macbeth, where just before “King  Macbeth is beheaded he sums up his life:

                              “Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow

                                Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

                                    To the last syllable of recorded time,

                                 And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

                            The way to dusty death.  Out, out brief candle! 

                                Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

                               That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

                                          And then is heard no more.

                           It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

                                                       Signifying nothing.”

                                           Macbeth, Act 5,Scene5, Lines 22-31

 

Macbeth is a tragic tale of one who lived selfishly and passionately and lost his soul.  We must remember as we live that we will one day give an account for our actions to the One who created us in His image.

HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE?

 Ezekiel 27:1-1-, John 15:5

Ezekiel was a prophet to the Jews. In one of his visions he saw a valley of dry bones which came to life by God’s power. The prophecy foretold the day that Israel would become a nation. This occurred in 1948, yet the illustration of God putting flesh on dry bones and breathing life into otherwise dead corpses screams truth at us today. If we are to live beyond futility then we must receive our life and purpose from God who created us. Apart from Him we are nothing! (John 15:5)

EPITAPHS  Philippians 1:21

As the popular pizza commercial use to ask, “What would you like on your tombstone?”

If your life were to be summed up in one sentence, how would it to read?

The following are reported to be actual epitaphs on tombstones:

Here lies Ann Mann; She lived an old maid And she died and old Mann. (Bath Abbey, England)

Here lies Lester Moore; Four slugs from a 44 No Les No Moore (Tombstone, Arizona)

Sacred to the memory of Anthony Drake, who died for peace and quietness sake. His wife was constantly scolding and scoffin’, So he sought for repose in a twelve dollar coffin.  (Burlington, Massachusetts)

Underneath this pile of stones lies all that’s left of Sally Jones Her name was Briggs, It was not Jones, But Jones was used to rhyme with stones. (Skaneateles, New York)

Here under this sod and under these trees Is buried the body of Solomon Pease. But here in his hole lies only his pod His soul is shelled out and gone up to God. (Falkirk, Scotland)

He called Bill Smith a liar. (Cripplecreek, Colorado)

Beneath this stone, this lump of clay lies uncle Peter Daniels, Who too early in the month of May took off his winter flannels. (Midway, Massachusetts)

I don’t know what was on the Apostle Paul’s tombstone, but if I had to write it, I think I would just record what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live as Christ and to die is gain.” That pretty much sums up Paul’s life. The question is, what sums up yours?

A good exercise is to write your own epitaph from time to time. The whole point of writing one of course is not to engage in a little grave humor, but to focus on how others see you. The picture might not be very pretty. There was nothing at all written on the stone that Ebeneezer Scrooge saw for himself in his third Christmas Eve vision in the Charles Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol. Gone and totally forgotten, was to be his fate if he did not change. There’s still time. Try writing an epitaph for yourself. If you don’t like the result, make the changes necessary before your time runs out!

 

CHEATING DEATH

  1 Corinthians 15:51-58

As I said before… Boo! Everyone dies! The Christian, however, is promised a glorious resurrection. In living for Christ we gain in death. We gain eternal life in Christ Jesus. Nothing scary about that! Mysterious? Of course! “Eye has not seen nor ear heard of the wonderful things that God has planned for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) Yes, mysterious to be sure, but not scary. Scary, is eternal separation from God… Hell.

For those of us who choose, as the Apostle Paul did, to live by faith and not by fear, there is a wonderful promise for an abundant life on earth and life beyond in the everlasting. What do you want on your tombstone? In other words, what is to be said of your life? Will the way you live today guide others to “live abundantly” tomorrow. When death comes knocking at your door will you embrace it as God’s promised adventure or shiver in hopeless regret?